Gg’s Chicken Soup

Chicken soup has to be the most versatile soup. Add what you like, omit what you don’t. Make it chunky or if you can be bothered, cut everything into bite-sized pieces. It goes with bread, pasta or rice. If you add potatoes, that saves you the trouble of cooking additional starch. I like to add a poached egg when I serve chicken soup as my DCM likes poached eggs. Don’t wait till you feel sick to make chicken soup. I have it a lot and I never catch a cold.

Gg’s Chicken Soup Recipe:
(serves 1 – 6)

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 litres chicken stock (strained)
  • 2 big carrots (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • 2 medium onions (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • additional vegetables of your choice (cut into bite-sized pieces)
  • reserved chicken breast meat from chicken stock (cut into bite-sized pieces)

Seasoning

  • salt & pepper (to taste)

Directions

  1. Combine chicken stock, carrots and onions in a pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Add additional vegetables and bring to a boil.
  3. Add chicken meat, season and serve.

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Chicken Soup For The Tum

Chicken soup is touted for its restorative properties when one has a cold. I’m not entirely sure about that and I don’t really care. I only know it’s simple to make, delicious and healthy.

When you grow up, you’re going to make a great pot of chicken soup…

I love adding lots of vegetables to my chicken soup.

It almost ends up as vegetable soup with chicken. There’s the standard carrots and onions (no celery as my DCM doesn’t like it) of course. I also like adding bamboo shoot slices, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, baby Chinese spinach, corn kernels, lotus root slices, mushrooms and watercress. You can add anything you like. While all that gives the soup more flavour and texture, a good chicken soup starts with a good stock.

Martin Yan said that with “a good stock, you can make a good soup”, According to him anything can be done with soup stock as “it’s like a strong foundation” from which “everything tastes good”. I concur! And you also know what else Martin Yan says right? “If Yan can cook, so can you!” That line never fails to amuse me. I digress.

 A soup stock consists of water, protein and aromatics. For chicken soup, I throw two to three fresh or dry bay leaves, a whole chicken breast on the bone, chicken wing tips, the chicken spine, neck and feet, an entire bulb of garlic or more simply halved horizontally with the paper left on and a knob of unpeeled ginger roughly sliced into a big pot of boiling water. There’s no fixed amount of how much of each ingredient goes into the stock. If you want a richer stock, throw in more chicken bones. If you like or do not like garlic or ginger add more or omit. If you have dry or fresh thyme, rosemary or any other herb you like, add that to the stock as well.

After all the ingredients are in the pot and the water comes to a boil again, I turn the fire down as low as it can go, cover with the lid and allow it to barely simmer undisturbed for hours. Allowing the stock to boil causes it to turn chalky. This does not affect the flavour of the stock and some like it as they claim it releases collagen (I don’t think chicken has much collagen to release).

I do not like a big boil as it dries the chicken meat, causes it to leave the bone and the meat sort of gets jumbled up with the other ingredients. It’s just messy. I usually start chicken soup stock in the morning and just leave it there till dinner time. At the end of all those hours of slow cooking, you get a flavoursome chicken stock with the chicken breast meat intact, tender and ready to fall off the bone. This saves on having to peel the chicken and getting my fingers and manicured nails dirty. Once the stock is strained, it can be stored away or used immediately.

Chicken soup makes a good one dish meal for my DCM who likes his soup with a bit of bread. It’s light yet filling enough that should he come home late from work, he won’t feel too heavy before bed. I always make extra so I have enough for lunch the next day. See recipe here.

Gg’s Lotus Root Soup

Never stinge on quality and quantity of your ingredients when cooking. This is especially true when making soup. I love drinking the broth as much as I do consuming the ingredients (so it is essential that there are enough ingredients to create a rich, flavourful broth as well as good ingredients for eating.

The pork used in the soup is most important as it is the flavour base of the broth. I prefer using the pig’s tail which encompasses the tail and a little of the spine. The Mumsy says the meat is extra sweet and tender in that area.  The skin covering the tail adds a little collagen stickiness and I also like that there is very little lard content which gives the soup the little fat it needs without causing it to be too greasy. The trotters and ribs are also very good for stock. If you have trouble deciding what to get, choose a part that has a good bone and meat ratio.

For those who do not eat pork, substitute with a lot of chicken parts. There is no comparison where flavour is concerned but it will do.

Lotus root is of course a must in this soup. For those unfamiliar, lotus root is the root portion of the lotus plant. It is said to be low in saturated fat yet rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. Basically, it’s good for you. Eat more!

The beautiful lotus

The lotus root

For those worried about the oysters and cuttlefish imparting a fishy quality to the soup, fret not. The amount here is enough to enhance flavour but not overpower the soup. If you are really adverse to the stuff or are not able to find it, use more peanuts and lotus root. This is sacrilegious to me but you got to do what you got to do.

Be patient and wait out the cooking time. If you get impatient and boil it over a high heat, you speed things up but it’s just not the same. Just trust me on this. The second time I made lotus root soup, I was impatient. I didn’t get that same feeling of satisfaction.

I hope my lotus root soup brings you as much joy and fulfillment as it does to me…

Gg’s Lotus Root Soup Recipe:
(serves 1 – 6)

Ingredients

  • 4 big/ 6 medium/ 8 small individual lotus roots (washed and sliced into thick pieces)
  • 1 bulb garlic (halved horizontally)
  • as much pork bones as you like (chopped into big portions)
  • 1 medium-sized dried cuttlefish (rinsed)
  • 3 – 4 dried oysters (rinsed)
  • 2 – 3 handfuls raw small peanuts with skin on (rinsed)
  • 1 handful dried red dates or 2 – 3 large dried plums or both can be used together

Seasoning

Directions

  1. Combine lotus root and garlic in a big pot and add enough cold tap water to just cover. Bring to a boil over a high flame.

  1. Boil some water.
  2. Add all other ingredients except seasoning, turn down the fire to low and cover pot with lid.

Dried oysters and red dates hiding in there somewhere...

See how the soup already has some colour here? Wait till it has had its 6 to 8 hours.

  1. Simmer covered or transfer to slow cooker (on low) for at least three to four hours. Six to eight would be ideal.
  2. Season to taste and serve.

The Patient Soup Nazi

I am obsessed with soup. I know I gush about a lot about food in general but soup is something I am particularly consumed with.

There are those who salivate over the thought of chocolate or truffles or even steak and French fries, but I would forgo all of that for a good bowl of soup. I know it’s just soup and there’s nothing fancy about it. Yet, soup is to me what foie gras is to others.  I don’t know how to explain it. For me, soup is like that guy you’re so crazy over the moon about but no one can seem to see why. Like Charlotte and Harry in Sex & The City!

Let me be the first to tell you, drinking alcohol is the worst thing to do in cold weather. Hot soup is the best because the process of digesting food helps to warm you up.Morgan Freeman

What does good in bed mean to me? When I’m sick and I stay home from school propped up with lots of pillows watching TV and my mom brings me soup – that’s good in bed.Brooke Shields

Many only think of soup on a cold day or when sick. Where I’m concerned, soup is good for any meal, any day of the week. On a rainy or sick day, soup is heaven.

I remember being in primary school and eagerly looking forward to going home after school on the days the Mumsy cooked white rice and made a big pot of soup for dinner before she left for work. This meant that I would have rice and soup for lunch too. It was a meal that though basic and simple was so delicious, brought so much joy and conveyed love. These days, if I want soup, I have to make it myself. Sometimes I get lucky and the Mumsy has some leftover on the weekend when I visit the Parentals and my Poofballs.

Although chicken soup and mushroom soup are the popular ones (I will blog about them soon enough) and everyone seems to love Tom Yum (also another upcoming blog post), there is one soup in particular the Mumsy makes which ranks number one on my soup list. Lotus root soup… It’s a Chinky soup so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Most Chinky soups are very easy to make. You basically dump everything into a pot and boil. The only trouble with soup is that you need a lot of patience. Six hours or more is a long time to wait. Why such a long wait? Shouldn’t a good hour or so be good enough? It would be if you like a mediocre soup. I like soup that has been simmered till the flavours of the ingredients permeate the soup, the broth intensifies in flavour and is then reabsorbed back into the ingredients. And since I do not have a slow cooker or pressure cooker (I really want them but…), I have to wait out the cooking time.

For me, lotus root soup is the S(o)uper Star of soups and my indulgence. It is one of the few Chinky dishes my DCM is not fond of, so when I make a pot of lotus root soup, it is all mine! Since he will not be home for dinner all of this week, it is the perfect time for lotus root soup.

Yesterday, I endured 6 hours of torture, breathing in the heady aroma of the lotus root soup cooking away, before I finally caved in and had my first proper bowl. It was comforting and delicious. It was also a rainy day which made having a hot bowl of soup that much more enjoyable.

Today, after more gentle simmering last night and a hearty boil, it is… I don’t have a word for better than delicious. Amazeballs? For the lotus root soup lovers out there, give my recipe a go and try to be patient, for all good things come to those who wait. If you do, I would love to know what you think. I need another bowl now.

Unfortunately, lotus root soup has one flaw. It disappears really fast…